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LINGUIST List 21.2759

Wed Jun 30 2010

All: Obituary: Gösta Bruce

Editor for this issue: Elyssa Winzeler <elyssalinguistlist.org>

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        1.    Merle Horne, Obituary: Gösta Bruce

Message 1: Obituary: Gösta Bruce
Date: 30-Jun-2010
From: Merle Horne <merle.horneling.lu.se>
Subject: Obituary: Gösta Bruce
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It is with great sorrow that we convey the tragic news that Gösta Bruce,
Professor of Phonetics at Lund University, Sweden, passed away on June 15
following a short illness. He was 63 years old.

Gösta Bruce played a very influential role internationally and contributed
to the development of models and methods within prosody research. His
doctoral dissertation, 'Swedish word accents in sentence perspective'
(1977), was seminal in this regard. In contrast to earlier work on Swedish
tone accents, Gösta did not limit himself to describing how the accents
were realized phonetically. Rather, his goal was to understand the
underlying reason why they pattern like they do. His most influential
scientific contribution was the analysis of Swedish intonation contours
into discrete components: word accents, sentence accents and boundary tones
that realize various combinations of two phonological tones (High and Low).
This insight, that there could be higher level, more general prosodic
patterns, inspired many other researchers to apply the same kind of
analysis to other languages, and these ideas now characterize current
models of the phonology and phonetics of intonation.

In addition to this pioneering contribution to prosodic research, Gösta
Bruce's scientific career also included significant contributions to the
description of the intonation of Swedish dialects. Much of this work was
carried out within the framework of the projects SweDia 2000 and Simulekt.
An important product of the investigations carried out in these projects is
the recently published book 'Vår fonetiska geografi' 'Our phonetic
geography'. Since 2007, Gösta Bruce also functioned as president of the
International Phonetic Association.

In addition to his important research achievements, Gösta was also an
excellent academic leader. In both his role as head of the department and
as responsible researcher for many projects, Gösta Bruce was esteemed and
respected. Moreover, he was a very enthusiastic and admired teacher and
supervisor who inspired many undergraduate students and doctoral candidates
with his wisdom and deep understanding of spoken language structure. His
projects made it possible for many young researchers to obtain experience
and his exemplary leadership that was characterized by goal-directedness,
humor and empathy, contributed to the department's open-minded academic

Gösta Bruce's encouragement, readiness to discuss and receptivity for new
ideas was invaluable for his students. He was a master in the art of
inspiring doctoral candidates to believe in themselves, to rely on their
own capacity, and to deal with problems by seeing their possibilities
instead of their difficulties. We will remember Gösta, not only as an
internationally recognized and respected scientist but also as our
colleague who always had something wise to say when there was a problem to
deal with. With Gösta, one could just as easily talk about sports (Gösta
was an elite athlete in his youth) as about science.

Gösta shared his great knowledge willingly, and he did this without
pretense. He was an unusually humble person, so much so, that one could
easily forget when sitting at the same coffee table with him, that it was
the well-known phonetician Gösta Bruce that sat there. For us, the private
person Gösta and the academic leader professor Bruce were one and the same
person. Gösta was himself in all situations. To have been a colleague and
student of Gösta Bruce's has been a privilege that we will always be
grateful for.

Friends and colleagues at the Department of Linguistics and Phonetics, the
Center for Languages and Literature, and the Joint Faculties of Humanities
and Theology, Lund University, Sweden

Linguistic Field(s): Not Applicable
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